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The local area guide to living in Galashiels

Galashiels, Selkirkshire, is a Scottish burgh. It is one of the most important towns to the Borders region economy and is also a popular tourist destination. The town itself has some beautiful architecture on show, and the surrounding countryside is among the most beautiful in Scotland.

Galashiels was historically the site of a lot of conflict between the Scottish and the English, and has the amusing motto 'sour plums' as a result of one incident in particular. The story goes that in 1337, English soldiers stopped to pick and eat unripe plums and were ambushed and defeated by the Scottish. Since then, 'soor plooms' (Scots for sour plums) have been enjoyed by locals - a sour, sharp boiled sweet.

Just to the north of the town is the Buckholm Tower - a structure that dates back to the 16th century, and to the west is an even older earthwork - a Picts Work Ditch which stretches for several miles. Its original purpose remains largely a mystery.

Every year, the town celebrates its recognition as a burgh with the Braw Lads Gathering. It is an event that happens in late June, with riders on horses parading through the town commemorating the town's history.

Information about the local residents

According to the 2011 census, Galashiels has a population of 14,994. It has a mean age of 40.4, which is just about in line with the national mean age. 16.6% of people are of pensionable age, 66.9% are between 16 and 64 and 16.6% are children under the age of 16. 84.4% of people in the area identify as White Scottish, 8.1% as White Other British, and 3.3% Irish or Polish.

53.7% of houses in Galashiels are owner occupied, which compares to 62% for Scotland as a whole, and 14.5% are privately rented. Nearly a third are designated as social housing. 15.7% of households are detached, 18% are semi-detached, 20% are terraced and 46.3% are flats or maisonettes.

The town has an unemployment rate of 5.9%, higher than the Scottish rate of 4.8%, and a retired population of 14.3%. The largest employing sectors are wholesale and retail trade, and human health and social work activities. Education rates are about average, with 27.1% having no qualifications and 23% having achieved Level 4 or higher qualifications.

Self-reported states of health are very good in Galashiels. 51.4% of people say their health is 'very good' and a further 31.3% say it is 'good'. Less than 5% say their health is 'bad' or 'very bad'.


Nearby schools

There is one major secondary school in the town, Galashiels Academy, which is fed into by 11 primary schools.

Galashiels Academy was first established in 1696, and takes pupils all the way up to the age of 18. It has performed very well under inspection, and 81% of S4 pupils achieve Literacy and Numeracy at Level 4 or better - that is above the national average at 77%. Its reports also remark that it has shown consistent improvement since 2012. The school's motto is 'by faith and diligence'.

Getting around

Galashiels Railway Station and historic Waverly Line were closed as part of the Beeching Closures in the 1960s. However, in 2006 an act was passed in Scottish Parliament to restore service. It was formally re-opened by the Queen in September 2015, and now has trains running every half hour. It's possible to get a direct train to Edinburgh in less than an hour.

Galashiels also has a good bus service, with the station combined with the railway station.

Local Shops

Galashiels had several new developments at the turn of this millennium and therefore has better shopping facilities than you'd expect for a town of its size. There are nationally known brands such as Boots, Asda, Next, Marks & Spencer and Tesco on the town's former industrial sites.

There are also some excellent local markets and independently owned stores, as well as good pubs and cafes.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.